Johnson & Johnson CMO Rallies The Brand Around Consumer ‘Need States’

AlisonLewisWhen Alison Lewis joined Johnson & Johnson as its first-ever consumer marketing chief in 2013, the purveyor of popular baby-care products like No More Tears and the ubiquitous Band-Aid, was at a crossroads as a company.

“We had really great marketers and agency partners, but we realized we needed a unified approach to brand-building for our 1,400 marketers,” said Lewis onstage this week at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in Washington, DC. “We needed everyone to push for experiences together that truly engaged consumers.”

Part of Johnson & Johnson’s new marketing mandate included the creation of a common framework around one key factor: data.

“One source of inspiration for our new agency model is … data,” Lewis said. “We needed to address how we collected, crunched, considered and activated data, and be super clear on the global shift in consumer behavior.”

One of the immediate shifts was planning “shared” content investments in addition to owned, earned and paid media.

The brand used to create content and then figure out where to place it, but is now taking a decidedly less channel-based approach.

Because brands are also demanding faster production times and condensed workflows due to the hyperactivity of social and live-streamed video, lines between agencies once categorized around TV, digital, social or mobile, are beginning to blur.

“We knew our content needed to be created around ‘connections,’ where we mapped out consumer and stakeholder behavior, and really understood their journey,” Lewis said. “ This gives our creative talent a real head start, so [when we’re] looking at millions of impressions socially, we can ensure we’re there when it matters.”

A pillar in Johnson & Johnson’s connections map is honing in on the consumer’s “need state” at various points in their life. For some products, the target is narrow.

While a baby is technically the end consumer for Johnson’s calming lavender line, for instance, the product actually caters to moms who want a better night’s sleep, said Lewis.

Others, like Tylenol, are much more widely distributed. And sometimes, the focus is regional – Listerine Natural Green Tea mouthwash was launched specifically for Asian markets.

“When you have a broad portfolio, you have to be clear about who you compete with, but more importantly, what drives consumer behavior and where the gaps are,” Lewis said. “When you focus on … how the brand [can serve a] consumer’s need in a moment in time, the complexity is eliminated.”

Lewis has invested in data architects behind agency lines to help reduce those complexities and improve audience segmentation. Still, she said, there’s sometimes the temptation to measure everything when you have “too much data.”

She advised: “Just because you can measure something, it doesn’t mean you should. You have to leverage insights earlier in the process and optimize later in the process vs. how we traditionally did it, which was somewhere in the middle.”


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